In the winter of 2004, I decided to start publishing board games. I would graduate from Northern Arizona University in May. I felt publishing board games would be a good way to channel my creative energies, work within my passion, and make a living. It was all very exciting. My wife was 100% in support of me. I even had an extraordinarily good game to publish in Gheos, which was later published by Z-Man Games.
As often happens with grand plans and schemes, life came along and changed my course in a fantastic way. My wife was pregnant with our first child. This was even more exciting than publishing board games. However, this threw a financial security monkey wrench into the publishing plan. My wife and I both wanted her to be able to stay home with our children. That meant I needed a stable job with good income potential.
I always knew I would have the option to work with my father providing financial advice. I would be good at it, enjoy it, and gain fulfillment through planning for and protecting lifestyles in retirement. My wife would be able to stay at home, and we could live a comfortable life with relative financial stability. On the other hand, I REALLY wanted to publish board games. Eventually and without duress I choose to be a responsible adult and take my first steps toward being a good father. Sacrifice. Publishing board games would have to wait, potentially never happening.
Now that I am a real adult, the decision would be easier than it was. Borrowing money to start a publishing venture that would likely fail versus taking care of my family. Looking back, I doubt I had the fortitude, plan, communication skills, and decision making to be successful as a publisher in 2005. It is wonderful how life changes our course sometimes. Not only did I have a beautiful daughter, happy and gorgeous wife, and stable employment. I also had time to gain the experience and maturity needed to be successful as a publisher.
My heart was still set upon the business world surrounding games. Whenever I would get frustrated at work, then I would consider moving into the game business in some capacity. Own a game store, getting into distribution, online game sales, and publishing were always on my mind. Finally, in March of 2009, we decided to give publishing a chance. So, in my extra time outside of being married, having two kids, full-time employment, and building a house… Tasty Minstrel Games was born.
I decided to publish Terra Prime and Homesteaders together as the first releases. Until November of 2009 it was a game of hurry-up and wait. November was the month of the Board Game Geek convention, where we would make our releases officially available. We planned our Winner Cleans Up event for early Thursday. Up to 100 participants would be invited to a seminar explanation of the rules for each game. This would be followed up by pairing off into groups of four. The groups of four would each get a game to play. After all of this, the winner of each game “Cleans Up” and gets to keep the game. The plan was to seed BGG.con with copies of the games and people who wanted to play the games. After the seed was planted, the games would sell themselves.
The plan would have worked like a charm, if the air freight arrived on time. Now we had to reschedule. We probably lost 75% of participants. So instead of giving away 25 of each game, we gave away 4 of each game. Eventually the games did start to sell themselves, but it was late at the show and lacking in the necessary momentum. In addition, I found out that some of the copies of Homesteaders were improperly collated and every copy needed to be checked by hand. On top of this, all of the games were moist. Not very exciting.
To resolve the production issues, I would need to fly to Atlanta (where my fulfillment company is) with Seth Jaffee (Head of Design and Development at Tasty Minstrel Games) to resolve all of the packing and moisture issues. We flew in on Sunday. We worked approximately 50 hours on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. We flew back out on Friday.
It was a hectic week of opening new games, sorting through them, and adding silica packs to help with the moisture issues. Finally, we were ready to sell games into distribution to finally end up in the hands of retailers. We had arrived. Slightly beaten up for the whole experience, but we arrived nonetheless. Needless to say, we have new manufacturers to use in the future who come highly recommended. I hope you enjoyed the story!
Please, enjoy my blog. Buy games from Tasty Minstrel Games. But most of all have fun!